Filmgenres Kriegsfilm (2006) A Very Good German Book on War Movies

I know this is not of great importance to the majority of my readers who might not read German, still I feel it is important for those few who do to inform them about this book that is one of the best books on war movies that I have.

Each chapter is written by another author and most of them are very good. The authors  review and analyse in chronological order some 65 war movies.  As just said, the book does not only contain reviews like you find them in many other books but an in-depth analysis of every movie is provided as well.

What I appreciate most is that it includes movies from many different countries.

The choice is very convincing as well. Sure, there are some movies missing that I would have liked to see included but that is always the case. Be it books or lists.

A further asset is the introduction in which the editors (Klein, Stiglegger, Traber) try to define the genre and name topics and themes.

Highly recommended reading.

Filmgenres Kriegsfilm bei

Vietnam War Movies by Jamie Russell (2002)

This useful little book is one of the pocketessential film series books.

It´s dedicated to Vietnam War Movies only.

The movies are ordered by themes:

Combat Movie The Green Berets, The Boys in Company C, Go Tell the Spartans, Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Full Metal Jacket, BAT21, Saigon, 84 Charlie MoPic, Casualties of War, Tigerland

Vet Movie Billy Jack, The Visitors, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, The Exterminator, First Blood, Gardens of Stone, Jacknife, Distant Thunder, Born on the 4th of July, In Country

Drugs and Surrealism Tracks, Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Now Redux, Good Morning Vietnam, Air America, Jacob´s Ladder

Counter-culture and protest movement The Activist, Letter to Jane, Hearts and Minds, Coming Home, Running on Empty, Rude Awakening, Dogfight, Forrest Gump

1980s return to Nam Good Guys Wear Black, Uncommon Valor, Missing in Action, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Eye of the Eagle

Telling a different story Heroes Shed no Tears, Dear America: Letters home from Vietnam, Bullet in the Head, Turtle Beach, Heaven & Earth, Cyclo

Each movie is summarized, cast and crew are named, some background and sub-text information is given and the movie is rated as well.

101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die (2009)

101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die (2009)  is a very nicely done reference book, part of a whole series of 101 or 1001 movies you must see before you die books. Picture books actually.

It’s ordered chronologically and contains colour photographs of the movie posters, naming of Cast & Crew, followed by a detailed description of the movie and some words on its importance. Additionally there is a colour photo of a scene depicting one or the other crucial moment of the movie with its description.

It is very nice to look at especially for those enthusiastic about movie posters. The entries are not very critical but this seems only normal since the aim was to choose 101 must-see  movies so one can safely assume the authors rated them all as outstanding.

From a purist’s point of view I think that the editors chose to include a lot of movies that are normally part of subgenres that the die-hard war movie fan would exclude. They therefore added  movies like Schindler’s List (1993) that you could rather call a wartime movie or Last of The Mohicans (1992)which is more of a War/Action Romance film.

Looking at their choices I think one of their main criteria was the esthetics of a movie and to a certain extent it’s blockbuster value, meaning how much of a story beyond the pure historical facts was told (totally contrary to Gary Freitas who would choose accuracy and history over story). This is why Platoon was included but neither Hamburger Hill (1987) nor 84 Charlie MoPic (1989) that are on many levels better.

Since I do not tend to be as strict as many, and would maybe even include Casablanca (1942) (which they didn’t include) I don’t mind their approach.

But what really does it for me are the pictures. I just love those posters. They are an art form in their own right.

Gary Freitas’ War Movies (2004)

There are many books and types of books one can consult when interested in the topic of war movies. The first that come too mind are the movie guides. There are some very fine examples of that kind out there (War Movies, Under Fire.…) The next category one would look into are historical books, first hand accounts and the like (A Rumor of War, Band of Brothers, We Were Soldiers Once…). Finally there are a lot of novels that have been the basis for one or the other movie (The Thin Red Line, Catch 22, Regeneration, All Quiet on the Western Front...).

Since I mentioned Gary Freitas before I would like to dedicate this entry to one hell of a fine book, his  War Movies: The Belle & Blade Guide to Classic War Videos. I truly enjoy it every time I take it out and consult it. Freitas did a fine job in reviewing  a big number of movies (347), in rating them and telling you exactly why he thinks they work or why not. He doesn’t shy away from criticising films that are generally well-respected if he disagrees with the overall opinion. His wit and sarcasm are priceless. I laughed quite a few times when reading one or the other entry. The book is organized alphabetically but contains a lot of useful genre lists like Best War Satire, Best War Romances, Best POW Movies, Best Action Adventure to name but a few. Additionally there are lists dedicated to the different wars, Best Korean War Movies, Best WWI, Best Vietnam etc.

I wouldn’t  say I always agree with his views, especially since he doesn’t like the older classics and doesn’t think hardly any Air Combat movie worthy to get a high rating (probably often too propagandist for his taste) but I discovered many a gem through him and, as said before, I really like his sense of humor and the way he makes fun of bad movies (there are many, believe me).

As he would say: Go buy this book immediately. Now!  There aren’t many better ones out there.